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The problem of Loyalty in Greedy institutions

Chapter in book
Authors Abby Peterson
Sara Uhnoo
Published in Psychology of Loyalty
Pages 37-64
ISBN 978-1-62618-572-2
Publisher Nova Science Publishers
Place of publication New York
Publication year 2013
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Pages 37-64
Language en
Keywords ethnic minority police officers, greedy institutions, loyalty, police culture, Sweden
Subject categories Sociology


Loyalty is commonly regarded as a virtue, by many social theorists as a lost virtue in an increasingly individualized world. We argue that loyalty is not altogether lost, rather loyalty is institutionally demanded and enforced in certain working life enclaves, amongst others, the police force. In these enclaves, demands for total commitment and exclusive loyalty pose inherent dilemmas that generate problems for both the working environment and the services that the organisation is obligated to deliver. In this chapter we interrogate how ethnicity interfaces with the police culture and organisational structure in a major Swedish police force. We focus on the role that loyalty plays in defining how ethnicity interacts with mechanisms of exclusion and inclusion at the administrative level of the organisation as well as with the structures of rank-and-file police culture. The police authorities, perceived as ‘greedy institutions’, demand and enforce exclusive loyalty. We argue that ethnic minority officers are rigorously tested as regards their loyalty to their fellow officers and to the police organization, and the demands made on their undivided loyalty and the misgivings as to their unstinting loyalty act as barriers to inclusion in the organization. We conclude that loyalty must be moderated if a police force is to work effectively in the best interests of society, or, to put it another way, the greed of greedy institutions must be controlled.

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